Page images
PDF
EPUB

one just like it. There, you are put out again! So it was with the one I mean, when anything happened hastily."

The beautiful girl flung back her hair, and knelt to stoop her pitcher in the gurgling runnel; and then she looked at his silver locks, and was sorry for her impatience.

"Sir, I beg you to forgive me, if I have been rude to you. I am the maid from the old house yonder. I am often sent for this water, because it sparkles much more than our own does. If you please, I must go home, sir."

She filled the red pitcher, and tucked the blue skirt, as girls alone can manage it; and Sir Philip Bampfylde sighed at thinking of his age and loneliness, while with an old-fashioned gentleman's grace he lifted the pitcher and asked no more upon whose head he laid it.

CHAPTER LVIII.

MORE HASTE LESS SPEED.

To do what is thoroughly becoming and graceful is my main desire. That any man should praise himself, and insist upon his own exploits and services to his native land, or even should let people guess at his valour, by any manner of side-wind, —such a course would simply deprive me of the only thing a poor battered sailor has left to support him against his pension; I mean of course humble, but nevertheless well-grounded, self-respect.

This delicacy alone forbids me even to allude to that urgent and universal call for my very humble services which launched me on the briny waves once more, and in time for a share in the glorious battle fought off Cape St. Vincent. Upon that great St. Valentine's Day of 1797, I was Master of the Excellent, under Captain Collingwood; and every boy in the parish knows how we captured the Saint Isidore, and really took the Saint Nicholas, though other people got the credit, and nearly took a four-decked ship of 130 guns, whose name was the Saint Miss Trinder, and who managed to sneak away, when by all rights we had got her.

However, let us be content with things beyond contradiction; the foremost of which is, that no ship ever was carried into action in a more masterly style than the Excellent upon that occasion. And the weight of this falls on the Master, far more than the Captain, I do assure you. So highly were my skill and coolness commended in the despatches, that if I could have borne to be reduced below inferior VOL. XXV. 1198

LIVING AGE.

men, I might have died a real Captain in the British Navy. For (as happened to the now Captain Bowen, when Master of the Queen Charlotte) I was offered a lieutenant's commission, and doubted about accepting it. Had I been twenty years younger, of course, I must have jumped at the offer; but at my time of life, and with all my knowledge, it would have been too painful to be ordered about by some young dancer; therefore I declined; at the same time thinking it fair to suggest, for the sake of the many true Britons now dependent upon me, that a small pecuniary remittance would meet with my consideration. That faculty of mine, however, was not called to the encounter; I never heard more about it, and had to be satisfied with glory. But if a man is undervalued often, and puts up with it, he generally finds that fortune treats him with respect in other more serious aspects. For instance, what would have happened if Providence had ordained to send me into either of those sad mutinies which disgraced our fleets so terribly? That deep respect for authority which (like the yolk of a nest-egg) lies calmly inside me, waiting to be sate upon; as well as my inborn sense of Nature's resistless determination to end by turning me into a gentleman (indications of which must have long ago been perceived by every reader), not to mention any common sense of duty in the abstract and wages in the pocket,these considerations must have led me to lay a pistol to the head of almost every man I could find. However, from such a course of action grace and mercy preserved me: and perhaps it was quite as well. For I am not sure that I could have stopped any one of the four mutinies entirely; although I can answer for it, that never would bad manners take the lead in any ship, while I was Master. It is the shillyshallying that produces all the mischief. If all our Captains had behaved like Captain Peard and his first lieutenant, in the St. George off Cadiz, at the first spread of disaffection, it is my opinion that a great disgrace and danger would have been crushed in the bud. But what could be expected when our Government showed the like weakness? Twice they went hankering after peace, and even sent ambassadors! Who can ram shot home with pleasure while things of this kind are encouraged? To fight it out is the true Christianity, ordered by the Church itself.

And this we did, and are doing still, as Roger Berkrolles prophesied ; and the only regret I have about it is, that a stiffness in my knees enables the other boarders to

take a mean advantage of their youth, and jump into the chains or port-holes of a ship (when by my tactics conquered), so as to get a false lead of me. However, no small consolation was to be gained by reflecting how much more prize-money would accrue to me than to any of these forward fellows, so that one might with an unmoved leg contemplate their precipitancy.

I happened to whisper into the ear of Griffith that the whole of my stipend for Newton Church clock would now, according to my views of justice, be handed to Hezekiah's wife, inasmuch as the worthy gunsmith had rejoined the Church of England. And I said what a dreadful blow this would be to all the Nicodemites, when the gunofficer returned with money enough to build a chapel: however, I felt that it served them right, because they had lately begun to sneer at his good wife's wonderful prophesies. In a word, I had promised to find Hezekiah; and, both while in harbour and now when afloat, I tried to get tidings not only of him, but also of the Newton tailor, and Heaviside, and the three wild men, as well as young Harry Savage, Lieutenant Bluett, and Captain Bampfylde. For all of these being at sea and in war-time, who could say what had befallen them? Whereas I knew all about most of our people now living ashore in the middle of peace. How

Even a sorer grievance was the breaking up and dispersion of our noble and gallant ship's company, so long accustomed to one another and to sharp discipline in the Defence. Where was Captain Bampfylde? where was Lieutenant Rodney Bluett? What was become of our three fine savages? Even Heaviside and Hezekiah were in my thoughts continually, and out of my knowledge entirely. As to the latter worthy gunsmith, "Artillerist to the King and Queen, and all the Royal Family," I can only at present say that when I had been last at home, and before my acceptance of that brief appointment in the Ply-ever, of course one must expect old shipmouth dockyard-in short, when first I recovered strength, after that long illness, to cope with the walk both to and fro-I found occasion to go to Bridgend, with my uniform on for the sake of the town. I had not turned the corner of the bridge a good half-hour, before that important fact was known from the river-bank to the churchyard. And Griffith of the "Cat and Snuffers," set up such a Welsh hurrah [as good as the screech of a wild-cat trapped] that it went up the hill to Newcastle. In a word, Hepzibah heard of me, and ran down the hill, like a roaring lion, demanding her Hezekiah!

mates to be parted; and with all the vast force now afloat under the British flag, it would almost be a wonder if any of us should haul our wind within hailing distance of the others during our cruise in this world."

Nevertheless it did so happen, as I plainly will set forth, so far as I remember. Through the rest of the year '97 and the early part of the following year I was knocking about off and on near the Straits, being appointed to another ship while the Excellent was refitting, and afterwards to the Goliath, a fine 74, under Captain Foley.

What ensued is painful to me even now In the month of May 1798, all our Medito speak of. For though my conscience terranean fleet, except three ships of the was refitting, and ready to knock about again, after carrying too much sail, I could not find it in my heart to give the mother of a rapid family nothing but lies to feed upon. Many men of noble nature dwell upon nothing but conscience; as if that were the one true compass for a man to steer by whereas I never did find a man -outside my own Sunday clothes, whose conscience would not back him up in whatever he had a mind for.

[ocr errors]

My own had always worked like a power plainly exposed to every one; thereby gaining strength and revolving as fast as a mountain windmill, when the corn is falling away to chaff. This, however, was not required in the present instance; for Hepzibah (like a good woman) fell from one extreme into the opposite. From bitter reviling to praise and gratitude was but a turn of the tongue to her; especially when

line, lay blockading Cadiz. Our Admiral, the Earl St. Vincent, formerly Sir John Jervis, had orders also to watch Toulon, where a great fleet was assembling. And our information was so scant and contradictory, that our Admiral sent but three ships of the line and a frigate or two to see what those crafty Frenchmen might be up to. But this searching squadron had a commander whose name was Horatio Nelson.

This was not by any means the man to let frog-eaters do exactly as they pleased with us. "I believe in the King of England; I have faith in discipline; I abhor all Frenchmen worse than the very devil.” Such was his creed ; and at any moment he would give his life for it. It is something for a man to know what he means, and be able to put it clearly; and this alone fetches to his side more than half of the

arguers who cannot make their minds up. 1 on a searching scurry without one frigate But it is a much rarer gift, and not often to scout for them! We were obliged to combined with the other, for a man to en-sail, of course, within signalling distance ter into, and be able to follow up, ways of each other, and so that line of battle and turns, and ins and outs, of the natures might be formed without delay, upon apof all other men. If this is done by prac- pearance of the enemy. For we now had tised subtlety, it arouses hatred, and can a man whose signal was "Go at 'em when get no further. But if it be a gift of na- you see 'em." Also, as always comes to ture exercised unwittingly, and with kind pass when the sons of Beelzebub are love of manliness, all who are worth bring-abroad, a thick haze lay both day and ing over are brought over by it.

night upon the face of the water. So that, while sailing in close order, upon the night of the shortest day, we are said to have crossed the wake of the Frenchmen, almost ere it grew white again, without even sniffing their roasted frogs. Possibly this is true, in spite of all the great Nel

quite early that night, having suffered much from a hollow eye-tooth, ever since I lost sight of poor Polly.

He

Admiral Nelson made no mistake. had in the highest degree what is called in human nature "genius," and in dogs and horses "instinct." That is to say, he knew how to sniff out the road to almost anything. Trusting to this tenfold (when he found that our Government would not hear of it, but was nearly certain of a mighty landing upon Ireland), off he set for Egypt, carrying on with every blessed sail that would or even would not draw. We came to that coast at a racing speed, and you should have seen his vexation when there was no French ship in the roadstead. "I have made a false cast, Troubridge," he cried; "I shall write to be superseded. My want of judgment may prove fatal to my King and country."

If it were not hence, I know not whence it was that Nelson had such power over every man of us. To know what he meant, to pronounce it, and to perceive what others meant, these three powers enabled him to make all the rest mean what he did. At any rate such is my opinion; al-son's vigilance; for I went to my hammock though I would not fly in the face of better scholars than myself, who declared that here was witchcraft. What else could account for the manner in which all Nelson's equals in rank at once acknowledged him as the foremost, and felt no jealousy towards him? Even Admiral Earl St. Vincent, great commander as he was, is said to have often deferred to the judgment of the younger officer. As for the men, they all looked upon it as worth a gold watch to sail under him. Therefore we officers of the in-shore squadron, under Captain Troubridge, could scarcely keep our crews from the most tremendous and uproarious cheers when we got orders to make sail for the Mediterranean, and place ourselves under the command of Nelson. We could not allow any cheering, because the Dons ashore were not to know a word about our departure, lest they should inform the Crappos, under whose orders they now were acting. And a British cheer has such a ring over the waters of the sea, and leaps from wave to wave so, that I have heard it a league away when roused up well to windward. So our fine fellows had leave to cheer to their hearts' content when we got our offing; and partly under my conduct (for I led the way in the Goliath), nine seventy-fours got away to sea in the night of the 21th of May, and nine liners from England replaced them, without a single Jack Spaniard ever suspecting any movement. Every one knows what a time we had of it, after joining our Admiral; how we dashed away helter-skelter, from one end of the world to the other almost, in a thorough wild-goose chase, because the Board of Admiralty, with their usual management, sent thirteen ships of the line especially

For our Government had sent him word, through the Earl St. Vincent, that the great expedition from Toulon would sail for England or Ireland; and he at his peril had taken upon him to reject such nonsense. But now (as happens by Nature's justice to all very sanguine men) he was ready to smite the breast that had suggested pure truth to him. Thus being baffled we made all sail, and after a chase of six hundred leagues, and continually beating to windward, were forced to bear up on St. Swithin's Day and make for the coast of Sicily. And it shows the value of good old hands, and thoroughly sound experience, that I, the oldest man perhaps in the fleet, could alone guide the fleet into Syracuse. Here our fierce excitement bubbled while we took in water.

PARENTAL SAGACITY OF THE SWALLOW.

From Chambers' Journal. and then fixing them to the wall of the injured nest. Notwithstanding all the diligence they used, they progressed but IN the early part of last spring I had a slowly, and, after four hours' work, the visit from a brace of swallows, who com- extent of repairs did not exceed threemenced to build a nest under my balcony, quarters of an inch in height by two inches in the fork of the bracket which supported in length. The following morning the it. The floor of the balcony being boarded, work was continued, and, as the little ones afforded complete shelter from the rain. were still alive, and in much the same conAs, however, the parlour-window was im-dition as I had left them, I concluded they mediately under the nest, the fumes from the gas, when the window was opened, proved too noxious, and they abandoned the idea of using it, and forthwith removed to the adjoining bracket, where they finished a suitable nest, their mode of construction being the following: They carefully collected all the fibrous matters they couldhorse-hair, wool, thread, &c. and rolling these in the small pools made by the water-carts in the street, they then formed them into little balls, about a quarter of an inch in diameter. These they carried to the bracket under the balcony, and fixed them in the fork thereof. The nest, when completed, formed an inverted cone about six inches deep, leaving a space of a little over two inches from the under floor of the balcony on the south side, the north side being continued unto the floor of the balcony.

All went well until the young birds were hatched, when some mischievous youngster discovered them, and, in an endeavour to obtain possession of the nest, broke the wall of it, when the three little inmates fell into the passage in front of the house, where my man-servant discovered them; and, as he had been for many years in Spain, where these birds are protected with religious care, he put them on a napkin, and brought them to me. I immediately took them to the balcony, and placed them in a nest formed of French cotton, and protected, as well as I could, from the cold and possibility of wet, but leaving a space large enough for the parent birds to get to them. then closed the window, pulled down the blind, and gave directions that no person should enter the room, lest they might be disturbed. In a little time, I had the satisfaction to see one of the parent birds return, and, after much fluttering about and cautious approaches eventually bring them some food (insects).

In an hour after, I found the old birds busily engaged repairing the nest, using in this instance the material composing the abandoned nest, which they carefully broke up, and carried in small pieces to the street, rolling the little pellets in the mud,

were well looked after by the parent birds. I left bird-seed oat-meal, and water on the balcony, but the old birds did not touch any. At evening the repairs had progressed so far as the gathering in of the lining and general trimming up of the jagged edges; but the reconstruction had advanced but little, the day having been very wet and stormy, so much so, that a considerable portion of the cotton was blown from my nest, and I had to move it into a more sheltered spot.

The next day proved fine, and the new wall was raised more than an inch in height, whilst the length being so much greater as they approached the top, gave evidence of continued industry; the abandoned nest was also considerably reduced in size. Another day of hard labour reduced the gap, and the opening had a semicircular form, about one-third of the damage being repaired.

On the morning of the fourth day after the calamity, I paid an early visit to the little ones, the sun being bright and warm, whilst the air was perfectly calm. Approaching the blind cautiously, I peeped through, and discovered one of the old birds carefully pushing a little one to the edge of the balcony, where the other parent bird was fluttering and supporting himself by the bill, just on a level with the flooring. In a few minutes the operation was completed by the safe transfer of the youngster to his back; the other parent immediately joined; and by the time I got down to the hall door, the youngster was safely lodged in the nest, with its mouth open, anxiously expecting its breakfast, which was quickly brought by one of the old birds, who made a rapid flight up and down the street, and secured a prize insect as a reward. The remaining little ones were transferred in the course of the day. But, on the following day, my servant brought one of them to me dead. I suppose it fell from the nest, as the wall was very low. The old birds continued to repair the nest until the aperture was reduced to a small semicircular opening through which a lady's hand might, pass; and for a considerable time

one of the old birds remained continually the borders of little princes. The wrongs in the nest. of the Jews of Roumania have also attr ct

In about three weeks after the restora-ed the notice, and received the condemnation of the nest, I observed, one morning, the old birds very busy about the nest; and having concealed myself from sight, I observed a parent bird take one of the young ones on his back, and fly a short distance off- not more than a yard and return with his charge to the nestthe other parent bird being always in close attendance, and assisting in the interesting ceremony. In a few days more, I observed the parent bird take the young one on his back to the street, and let it fly of its own accord, but always accompanied by both parents, one being in front, and the other immediately under the youngster. In this way the little ones were exercised alternately, principally in the early morning, when the street was comparatively quiet. As the season advanced, the flights became longer and both the little ones were taken out together, the noise occasioned by their delight and the instructions of the old birds being considerable. Eventually, the quartet proceeded on country excursions, sometimes not returning for a couple of days. Ultimately, I received a visit of longer duration from one of the old birds and the two youngsters. I began to fear an accident had occurred to the other parent. But in about three weeks, he joined the party again, and took them off. Before leaving, they completly closed up the entrance to the nest; and I fondly hope to receive a visit from my feathered tenants next spring.

From The Saturday Review.
GERMANY.

THE East of Europe is always just enough disturbed to keep Germany on the alert, although it is at present quiet enough to let the attention of Germans remain concentrated on their great struggle with their ecclesiastical enemies. The hot ashes of discord are always slumbering under a very thin covering of earth in the wild regious which border the Lower Danube, and peace only prevails because the great Powers choose that it shall prevail. The Emperor of Austria has lately been making a tour in his remote South-Eastern provinces, and Germans have noticed with some indignation that the petty sovereigns of Roumania and Servia have not paid him any of the attention which custom prescribes when so great a person comes near

tion, of the Imperial Parliament of Germany; and although the Committee to which the matter was first referred counselled prudence, and strongly hinted at the folly of interfering in the internal affairs of foreign countrie, yet the Chamber was not to be restrained, but vindicated its right to take cognizance of the victims of Roumanian bigotry on the ground that Roumania was under the guarantee of the great Powers, or at least was indebted to them for its separate political existence, and that Germany was entitled to see that it was not disgraced by the acts of those whom it had been a party to entrusting with the power they abused. It is obvious that if Germany is to remonstrate on this ground, it may add interference to remonstrance, and then a collision with Russia might easily begin. If either Russia or Germany wished to stir up the Danubian question neither would have any difficulty in doing so; and all that can be said is that for the moment the Governments of the two countries are desirous that everything shall be kept as quiet as possible. Prince Bismarck lately refused to offer any opinion on the Sultan's proposal to make a change in the line of Turkish succession, on the ground that Germany did not concern itself with Eastern questions; while, on the other hand, it was noticed that the Russian journals which ordinarily stimulate the Roumanians and Servians into the course of danger and offence have lately been entirely silent as to the proceedings of those badly behaved little countries. Still it must always be kept in mind, when Germany is under discussion, that she has perpetually three causes of anxiety, the pressure of which may be now less and now greater, but never ceases altogether. She has to think of the Danube and Russia, of France, and of the Papacy. Fortunately for her, she is encountering the last of these three hostile influences just at a moment when she is under remarkably little anxiety about the other two; and it may be that so evident a fact will strike her present adversaries as not unimportant, and that they will try to compromise matters for the present, and let things go on without any open rupture until a more favourable crisis arises, and either France or Russia is beginning to give Germany serious trouble. Meanwhile the German Government seems determined to show that it is not afraid of Rome, and that if the State is challenged by the Church, the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »